Saturday 29th November 2014
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
AFC FYLDE 3 HEDNESFORD TOWN 2
Tea Hut Stuff: None, but had a £2.90 pint of Kronenbourg in the Supporters Bar
Weather: Solid slate grey sky, dull indeed
Parking: Club car park behind the stand
When I left the Pennine Hills it was overcast and damp, by the time I hit Preston there wasn't a cloud in the sky just pure glorious sunshine. Just as I arrived at the Fylde coast that same lovely sunshine disappeared into a massed wall of chilly grey gloom, suppose that's typical of the climate up here in the North. There is some good weather on occasions but usually its pretty dire. That chilly grey gloom hung around all afternoon, it thickened and seeped over the fields towards Warton the small village nearest to the Kellamergh Stadium home of AFC Fylde, a small modern stadium in the middle of nowhere.
I'd dropped into Lytham before the game, a buzzing charismatic place 4 miles down the road towards Blackpool. The objective was to get hold of some fish and chips from 'Seniors' award winning chippy on the main street. I scoffed my 5 quid catch on a bench in the square, wonderful stuff.
Some football travellers have moaned that the AFC Fylde ground is hard to find but if you approach it from the main Lytham to Preston road you simply turn onto Church Road at the traffic lights in Warton village and follow the road up to the Birley Arms pub, you can't miss it. Strangely, the access lane to the stadium is at the rear of the pub car park but its straight forward enough, the access lane leads you down to the stadium car park behind the main stand, apparently there is room for 150 vehicles so don't leave your arrival too late in the day as there do not seem to be alternative parking options apart from hogging what spaces might be left empty up at the pub (and that wont be much).
I got in the ground quite early and decided to have a drink in Fullers Bar which is down by the corner flag. £2.90 for Kronenbourg made a nice change from the £4.50+ you tend to pay in rip off establishments. There are a couple of flat screen TV's playing Sky Sports stuff, bit shy on tables and chairs though (it is a small bar area in fairness). Stuffed full of my Lytham based fish and chips I had no room for tea hut grub. The tea hut facility at the ground actually looks a nice set up with various pies, chips and burgers on offer, all apparently locally sourced, it was doing good trade.
AFC Fylde have risen like a Salford Quays tower block over recent years and now ply their trade at the top end of the Vanarama Conference North. Without doubt they are a good footballing side. There is an obvious competent professional presence oozing from this club, you only have to clock the many volunteers and officials in club labelled clothing busy, busy, busy around the ground carrying out various tasks and duties all afternoon. Its friendly, efficient and impressive. Just check out the £2 programme, its literally in another world to some of the rubbish non league publications you can waste your money on, a superb effort for this level. Their online web presence is spot on up to date as well, what a refreshing change to what we normally get from the non leagues internet fraternity. There is talk that 'Fylde' haven't been satisfied as yet with the upward progress of their club, seems they may be moving to a brand new stadium in the near future twice as big as the current one?
Kellamergh Park is a fairly modern stadium built for the level of football initially aspired to. On this basis the place is going to have average to low key functional and practical facilities that offer ground grading compliance on a cost effective platform. It would be easy to slaughter the place on a charisma and atmosphere audit, that is not my intention, what would one expect in any case? You are not going to see old school Roker Park refinery in a profile like this, what you get is what you see, a flat pack main stand with 4 rows of seating, true, not a great view but at least you can keep dry and sit down. There is also a covered terrace behind the goals which is almost a body-double of the Sandy Lane End at Rochdale AFC's Spotland Stadium (so it can't be that bad).
Up the other end you have a small covered terrace adjacent to the Tea Hut and Bar area. The opposite side of the pitch to the Main Stand offers a few steps of good quality hard standing terracing on an uncovered basis. It is what it is, functional, tidy, it has a good decent pitch and it gets the job done, saying that, some may moan that its sterile, boring and has no presence, I would find that rather harsh bearing in mind the journey this particular club seems to be on.
As regards this FA Trophy match, Hednesford are in the same division as AFC Fylde but more mid table. They've had a rough patch results wise recently but seem to be fighting back. For the first hour of the game I'd say the home side bossed it 60/40 but in truth there was not a lot to get excited about.
The last 30 minutes witnessed a very good game indeed. The home side went 3-1 up but The Pitmen dug deep and battled back into it. They got it back to 3-2 from the penalty spot and slugged it out with Fylde right up to the last second, it could so easily have ended a draw but that Fylde early dominance I touched upon just about got them home.
I geared the Match Tank up for the journey back to the Hills and the daunting prospect of the Preston Traffic Light Challenge. I never find it easy travelling through Preston.